The late author Howard Hendricks and long time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary once wrote that people go through three stages when faced with change:
1. Resistance to change.
2. Tolerant to change.
3. Embrace change.
As an observer of the human condition it seems that most people remain in stage one. Some are able to accept stage two. And fewer yet actually move to stage three and embrace change.
Yet, author and lecturer Gail Sheehy, was “spot on” when she once said, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow.”
In the natural realm we both desire and expect change. We plant a seed in the soil. We anticipate it will germinate. Crack through the ground. Spring forth as a small shoot. And eventually grow into a plant that will produce fruit.
Too many Christians, however, fail to connect the importance of change with spiritual growth. Christian development and maturity requires change. Think about it.
#1 Christianity begins with a call that brings change of relationships.
In Romans 6, Paul describes one who has been baptized into Christ” is no longer a “servant” to Satan, and a “slave of sin,” but now is a “slave of God,” with a new identity and relationship.
#2 Christianity is demonstrated in a change of behavior.
A mere perusal of Ephesians 4:17-5:17 clearly shows in concrete terms how one changes his conduct by putting off the old self and putting on the new self “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
A liar becomes a truth-teller. An angry disposition develops patience and peaceful spirit. A law-breaker becomes law-abiding and a productive member of society. Putrid speech is changed into edifying and encouraging words. Hardheartedness is replaced with tenderheartedness. Bitterness, wrath and slander give way to geniality, graciousness, and goodness.
It can all be summed up in one word–”change.”
#3 Christianity affects a change in attitude.
Carnal mindedness is changed into spiritual-mindedness (Rom. 8:6-8). The disposition of devilish thinking is transformed into the attitude of Christ (Phil. 2:5). An earthly perspective now becomes an other-world view (Col. 3:1-2).
True conversion to Christ issues itself in a change of attitude.
#4 Christianity is witnessed in a change of faith.
The initial faith that led one who believe, confess and obey Christ, will not remain static or become stagnant. Our faith should grow richer, deeper and fuller. The Bibles says the faith of the Thessalonian Christians was “growing abundantly” (2 Thess. 1:3). If we’re growing, our faith is changing.
#5 Christianity emerges with greater knowledge and deeper understanding.
The Hebrew Christians were rebuked because they had not grown. They were still drinking “the milk of the word,” when they should have progressed spiritually to eating “the meat of the Word. Both through the time of being a Christian and usage of the Word, they should have been growing and maturing. The changes God expects of a growing Christian had not occurred as He desires.
These five areas demonstrate that growth and change are intertwined with the Christian experience. In fact, if you are developing and flourishing in these areas, you are changing. And growing spiritually.
It’s worth noting that when individuals change, churches change. A growing church will make changes. No church will truly be growing and staying the same. The issues are not the same as they were in the 1950’s. Society has changed. Culture has changed. Problems facing young and old alike have changed. But the Bible hasn’t changed. The principles and precepts that solved first-century challenges, will still work today when properly applied.
To be successful, churches must often change the means and methods of outreach and discipleship. Change our approach. And change our techniques. That doesn’t mean we change our purpose and principles. But we change our procedures based on scriptural precepts.
We may as well accept the observation of the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who opined that “change is the only constant in life.” And acquire the insight of Benjamin Franklin who quipped, “When you’re finished changing. You’re finished.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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